The 1/7th Battalion King's Liverpool Regiment and the Great War : the experience of a territorial battalion and its home towns
This is a study of the importance and significance of community identity to a fighting unit in the First World War. It is an analysis of the relevance of the local communities to the unit and its combat effectiveness; the role played by the unit in the local communities’ involvement in the War; and the post-War ramifications of this relationship. In focusing on 1/7th Battalion Kings Liverpool Regiment, a Territorial battalion based in Bootle, Southport and the surrounding area of south west Lancashire, the thesis follows a typical Territorial unit and its home towns from recruitment and establishment to demobilisation and beyond. A wide range of primary sources have been examined including local newspapers, local Council records, official War Diaries of the various units, battle reports and private papers of several of the combatants. In developing existing historiography the study is also believed to present new perspectives on several aspects of the War including the Lusitania riots; the battles of Festubert, 1915, and Givenchy, 1918; and the role of charities in post-War reconstruction work. It also raises general issues about the role of the Territorial Force and draws attention to several gaps in the social and military historiography of the War. The thesis concludes that local and community identity contributed significantly towards the 1/7th Kings’ morale, organisation and hence battle effectiveness. This contribution initially stemmed from the local recruits themselves but was actively nurtured and encouraged by commanders at Battalion, Brigade and Divisional level throughout the War. It also establishes that by putting the local Battalion at the centre of its concerns, the rather disparate communities were able to organise, coalesce and maximise their War effort and support. Finally, it demonstrates in the post-War years, that, despite the fluctuations in this mutually important relationship, the local identification with the Battalion was maintained in memorialisation, remembrance and reconstruction.